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Rivatex, Kicotec producing masks to curb Covid-19 spread

The government’s efforts to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic has received some boost after two local companies embarked on mass production of face masks.

The two are Eldoret-based Rivatex East Africa Limited and Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec).

The masks are expected to be supplied to the National Government for use in the battle against the virus.

The facilities are currently making sample facemasks and other preventive gear as the government steps up measures to fight the rising number of infections.

“We have embarked on mass production of face masks in the fight against Covid-19. Our dedicated staff are working round the clock to ensure that we have a huge production of PPEs. This is in line with Government’s clarion call to all Manufacturers to step in,” said Rivetex in a tweet.

On Monday, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu said Kicotec has the capacity to make thousands of masks per day.

She said the lack of masks, gowns, among other protective gear was hampering the ability of medical workers to fight coronavirus and putting their own lives at risk.

The samples will be presented to the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) for approval and subsequent orders.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) – caused by rising demand, panic-buying, hoarding and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Healthcare workers rely on PPE to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others.

But shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for Covid-19 patients, due to limited access to supplies such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons.

“We can’t stop Covid-19 without protecting our health workers,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, noting prices of masks have surged sixfold while the cost of ventilators has tripled.

Industrialisation CS Betty Maina on Sunday said some industries will begin to supply the government with personal protective equipment, masks and gloves as there is a biting shortage internationally.

“Starting next week we can manufacture our own PPEs. Soon we won’t need to import masks,” she said.

Mr Kagwe on Monday turned the spotlight on transport by bodaboda or motorcycles, and revealed that the new virus is now being transmitted through community transmission, away from its initial introduction and spread by foreign nationals coming into the country.

This, the CS said, means the disease was now spreading between locals and the number could grow exponentially.

He ordered bodaboda operators to carry one passenger and both must wear face masks to avert contracting and spreading the coronavirus in the line of duty.

“All bodabodas going forward will have to put on face masks. You can imagine how many passengers they interact with in a single day, we need to save our youth who have invested heavily in this business,” he said.

Kagwe said the ministry had put mechanisms in place to ensure that the face masks are distributed across the country to be accessed by the riders.

The Health CS said police have been instructed to enforce the directive with immediate effect.

The national government is set to kick off the distribution of masks in counties to aid in the implementation of its new measures to stop the virus from spreading further and faster.

“Government will distribute masks across the country. We are doing this to protect bodabodas,” he said, adding that it is a measure for them to remain in business.

Kenya on Monday confirmed 50 cases of Covid-19 in the country after 8 more people tested positive for coronavirus.